Michael is an avid pet-lover and content writer on topical themes related to dog care, training and behavioral development.
A lot of folks are interested in buying a dog because they find them adorable, and they enjoy having a canine companion around as part of their family. This is great, but having a pet also comes with responsibility. Animals need to be taken care of and brought up the right way.
Below are six important aspects of puppy training that all new owners should work on to ensure that their pets adopt proper behaviour from the onset. Effective training is invaluable for both dog and owner over the course of a dog's lifetime.
1. Help Them Become Acclimated to Their Crate
It is cruel to have pets locked up for long periods of time without giving them some measure of freedom. However, it is necessary to help your puppy learn how to be comfortable staying in a crate or kennel for a reasonable duration.
The first instinct that many new owners may have is to give their puppy as much freedom as possible and play with them all the time. This is actually counterproductive to the dog's development since there is much that it needs to learn, and the best time for the training is in its formative stages as a puppy.
So, start with small chunks of time during which you keep the puppy confined in a crate or kennel for about 15 minutes. During this time, avoid paying attention to it. When the period is over, take your pet out and find a way to reward it. Thereafter, in the course of time, work on extending this period gradually. Eventually, your puppy will become accustomed to staying in a crate or kennel.
2. Avoid Reinforcing Bad Behaviours
People fall in love with puppies and this attraction makes them want to play with them almost all the time. Bear in mind, however, that keeping the puppy in a constant state of excitement and playfulness will eventually be counterproductive as it grows older.
Ensure that you start as early as possible, training your puppy on how to respond to humans. It needs to learn at the puppy stage that it is not acceptable behaviour to spring upon visitors when they come into the house or disturb people when they sit down to eat a meal.
The puppy is very likely going to do this, so prepare in advance to correct this behaviour once it happens. Gently, but firmly. Do not, under any circumstances, allow the puppy to get away with it even once, because it is much harder to break a habit later once it has been formed at this stage.
The next rule for the puppy to learn is not to go chasing after everyone or everything that is moving away from it. This is irrespective of whether it is other pets, small animals in the compound or the postman!
3. Correct Protective Behaviours
Any degree of protectiveness that a puppy has needs to be weaned out of its system. The puppy should not be reactive when items which it deems to possess are moved away. This includes food, toys and beddings.
You can find out if your puppy is protective by carrying out a simple experiment. Once your puppy has played with a toy for a while, reach down and pick up the toy and move it away from the puppy. If this elicits growling or barking, then you know that your pet is developing protectiveness. Start remedying the situation immediately by correcting the behaviour. If left unchecked, it can have dire consequences when the dog is fully grown.
4. Address Barking From a Young Age
This is actually an extension of the behavioural point. Since dogs have a much more developed sense of smell than humans, they are of great benefit as they have the capability to alert the owner or anyone else around of imminent danger.
However, if they are not properly trained, they will tend to bark uncontrollably and this is a source of irritation in many neighbourhoods. It is, therefore, necessary to train your dog to cease barking immediately it is instructed to stop.
This may prove to be a difficult aspect of training, because dogs by their very nature, relish barking. It will require consistency on your part because you will need to correct the puppy each time it fails to stop barking at your command. Bear in mind that regardless of how often you will need to repeat the process, it is your persistence that will win in the end.
5. Incentivize Non-Destructive Alone Time
The puppy should be trained such that it does not require constant supervision but can conduct itself appropriately even when left alone. It should not be allowed to get away with creating a mess each time the owner or family member looks away.
Once this habit begins to form in the early stages as a puppy, the results will be wanton waste and destruction in future. This can be hazardous for everyone involved. It is therefore essential to instill discipline from the onset since it will not always be possible to have someone supervising the pet at home all the time.
How can this be achieved? Well, in much the same way confinement training is done. You begin by leaving the puppy alone for a few minutes at a time and monitor the outcome. Then you gradually increase the duration in the course of the next days or weeks, until you can see that you are able to come back to a neat home that is exactly the same way it was when you left it.
6. Work on Exposure and Adaptability
Your training should be such that your puppy is able to adjust comfortably to new environments aside from your home. As time moves on, there will be changes, including visits to the veterinarian, the local park, a friend's home or the grooming centre. There may also be relocations into a new home or even a flight to another country.
If the dog is not trained from the initial stages as a puppy to be adaptable to changes in the environment, it will become a burden to the owner for its entire lifetime. Hence it is necessary to begin working on your puppy's level of exposure to the world beyond its immediate environment and comfort zone.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Michael Duncan